A ""social history"" of a period and a region, the 1850's in California, when the gold rush demanded entertainment, and performers and artists catered to a heterogeneous demand, and followed the fortunes as they boomed and deflated. The first performances, the theaters, amateurs and professionals, music, minstrel shows, farce, comedy, actors and vehicles -- and all the attendant troubles of fire and flood, seandal and criticism, jealousies and funds. Montez and Lotta Grabtree held the limelight. Selective but an excellent general coverage. Source material has been tapped, and the book rings an authentic note. Good local market -- plus.